The amphetamine sensitization model of schizophrenia: relevance beyond psychotic symptoms?


A sensitized dopamine system may be linked to the genesis of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia. Following withdrawal from amphetamine exposures, psychotic-like traits have been robustly demonstrated, but the presence of cognitive/mnemonic deficits remains uncertain. Adult male Lewis and Fischer rats, differing in cognitive performance, were exposed intermittently to escalating doses of amphetamine over 5 weeks. This was effective in producing behavioral sensitization to a subsequent amphetamine challenge. Following 27 days of drug withdrawal, the animals were assessed in Pavlovian conditioning, object recognition, and spatial working memory. In addition, prepulse inhibition (PPI), spontaneous motor activity, and anxiety-like behavior were measured. Amphetamine pretreatment induced behavioral sensitization in both rat strains similarly. Working memory was enhanced in Fischer but not Lewis rats following withdrawal. Spontaneous novel object preference was enhanced in sensitized Fischer rats, but was impaired in sensitized Lewis rats, thus effectively reversing the strain difference in non-sensitized controls. In contrast, Pavlovian fear conditioning remained unaffected and so were anxiety-like behavior, open field activity, and PPI. The face validity of the amphetamine withdrawal model for cognitive deficits was limited to the object recognition memory impairment observed in sensitized Lewis rats. Yet, the possibility that enhancing dopaminergic neurotransmission may facilitate object recognition and spatial working memory performance was demonstrated in sensitized Fischer rats. Identification of the mechanisms underlying such strain-dependent effects would be instrumental in the further specifications of the construct validity, and therefore the limitations and potential of the amphetamine sensitization model of schizophrenia.

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-009-1514-7

10 Figures and Tables

Citations per Year

706 Citations

Semantic Scholar estimates that this publication has 706 citations based on the available data.

See our FAQ for additional information.

Cite this paper

@article{PelegRaibstein2009TheAS, title={The amphetamine sensitization model of schizophrenia: relevance beyond psychotic symptoms?}, author={Daria Peleg-Raibstein and Benjamin K. Yee and Joram Feldon and Jonas Hauser}, journal={Psychopharmacology}, year={2009}, volume={206}, pages={603-621} }